6. Capa: The Fall of an Icon

by Tony Quinn

robert capa Cerro Muriano magnum

The photograph above is entitled ‘Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936’. It was taken during the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa. He became famous all over the world.

In 1947, Capa was one of the founders of Magnum, an agency for freelance photographers, in Paris.

In 2010, the US computer millionaire Michael Dell bought almost 200,000 original prints from the New York collection of Magnum Photos, for an undisclosed sum – the archive was valued for insurance purposes at well over $100m.

However, the authenticity of the ‘Falling Soldier’ photo was challenged by Phillip Knightly in The First Casualty, a book about war reporting and war propaganda, in 1975. This created huge controversy

The most recent research – books have been written on it – suggests tthe photo does not portray what it claims to do – it was almost certainly taken at nearby Espejo on a different date – and was probably staged.

This finding has cast doubts on the foundations of photojournalism.

Page 7: London Life: Touching up photos